Saskatchewan

Woman who fought meth addiction says Regina's drug treatment court saved her life

A Saskatchewan woman credits drug treatment court for helping her to recover from a crystal meth addiction. Now she wants others to know there is hope for them too.

Meagan Jasper says she shares her story to inspire hope in others

Meagan Jasper graduated from drug court in Regina after 13 months. (Submitted by Meagan Jasper)

WARNING: This story contains reference to sexual assault that readers may find distressing.

Meagan Jasper says she was a good kid. 

Her family was middle-class and had no history of addiction. She went to church with her grandmother and did well at school in Yorkton, Sask. 

Then she tried crystal meth.

Now 32, Jasper wants people to know that while she may not be what people picture when they hear about a methamphetamine user, addiction can happen to anyone.

"I was hanging around some older kids, and I got into a drug called ecstasy and I was addicted to that," she said, explaining she began experimenting with drugs in high school in an effort to fit in.

But things changed when one of the older guys she hung out with offered her crystal meth, a much cheaper alternative to the drugs she had been buying.

"From there, I never touched another drug. It had a hold on me for the first time I used it." 

It was the beginning of a long descent.

Awareness week in Moose Jaw 

Jasper is sharing her story as Moose Jaw marks Crystal Meth Awareness Week. She's one of two people whose stories are featured in a locally filmed video called Stop Mething Around, which premieres on the evening of June 9. 

The initiative is sponsored by a local committee chaired by the city's police superintendent, Devon Oleniuk. He says on a recent Saturday night, three people in the city overdosed — one of whom could not be revived.

Oleniuk says it underscores the risk of street drugs. "You never know what the composition is and you're always putting yourself at risk when you do that."

Jasper says what began as an energizing boost allowing her to attend high school, work a part-time job and play on multiple sports teams quickly became a dependency.

"I went from using on the weekends to not being able to wake up in the morning without it," she said. "My family started to notice that there was some sort of problem. I became very moody."

When you picture a 'meth addict' what do you see? Maybe not who you should. We hear from a Saskatchewan woman who no longer uses crystal meth about stigma and stereotypes. 12:49

Quick spiral into dependence 

Jasper says she became angry and even physically violent with her parents. She lost her job, got kicked out of school and eventually wound up in jail multiple times.

"That was always my detox — going to jail," she said. "When I'd get out I always had these good intentions to stay clean. But I just didn't know how to."

After one arrest in 2016, Jasper says her parents again agreed to bail her out, but this time the court mandated she stay with her aunt. 

"I couldn't follow directions from somebody else," she said, recalling how she chafed under the control.

"I ended up going on the run, I took off from her house … and I ended up in Alberta on the streets for about a year, where I was kidnapped and raped." 

When she returned to Saskatchewan, she eventually turned herself in to police.

"I was just so exhausted from being on the streets and, you know, from hating the world."

Her parents refused to bail her out and she ended up in Pine Grove Correctional Centre. 

In jail, she met an Indigenous elder at a smudging ceremony, whose advice changed her life. The elder told her to stop praying to get out of jail and instead ask for the help she needed never to return.

Drug court answers prayers 

Her prayers were answered in the form of drug treatment court in Regina, which mandated that she live in an approved residence called Kate's Place. 

"Thank God I did, because my family, I can manipulate. My friends, I can manipulate. If I were to live by myself, I could have used and no one would know," she said, adding that she needed long-term treatment, not just a 30-day stay in a facility.

"So Kate's Place and drug court, they were perfect for me."

With the influx and presence of fentanyl and carfentanil in drugs and their deadly impact resulting in more and more overdoses, Jasper says she wants to share her message as widely as possible to prevent others from feeling trapped in the cycle of addiction. 

She hasn't used since she was arrested on Sept. 7, 2017. She has also gone back to school to get a business certificate and has found a job with the John Howard Society of Saskatchewan.

Meagan Jasper at a charitable event in Moose Jaw. She shares her story to inspire others. (Submitted by Meagan Jasper )

Jasper also founded a group for women who have been sexually abused called Speak Out. She says giving back is a way to inspire hope in others, as she was helped.

"If it's possible for me, it's possible for anybody," she said. 

"Nobody needs to die anymore."

With files from Janani Whitfield and The Morning Edition

now